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McMenamins Sunflower IPA

20 April, 2009 Leave a comment
Sunflower IPA

Sunflower IPA

Picture, if you will, a hot California summer’s afternoon, sun beating down from cloudless blue skies. Now imagine the cool of the evening, when the temperature drops below 80°F (about 25°C for you metric types), and the beer that you’d ideally like to drink whilst relaxing after supper, possibly in a lawn chair by the pool. I don’t have to imagine it – we are currently in the midst of an April heat wave, and though I claim to be acclimatised to the heat, I still have some way to go. With daytime temperatures into the 90s (32°C), no-one in their right mind will want to be drinking anything other than a light thirst-quencher.

I have to say that the drinkers of pales ales may say that I am rarely in my right mind, but even with my preference for the darker beers, even I want something lighter when the temperature hits this point. Thankfully, my lovely wife brought a good selection of McMenamins back from Oregon last week, one of which was this delightful IPA. I say delightful, because even though I’m not normally a big fan of the hoppier beers, this one struck me as so far removed from the crowd that it rates my special attention and recommendation.

So, what’s it like? Nectar. If ambrosia is the food of the gods, this is surely their pale ale. With an opening aroma of strawberries and even a teeny hint of roses, it’s a fragrant delight even before the first sip. I almost wanted to sit and sniff at it as it warmed up, but I resisted that particular temptation, and dived in, so to speak. There’s a sweetness that matches the strawberry, followed by the hop bitters, which for once in an IPA, wasn’t unpleasant to my taste buds. I wanted to just roll it around my tongue to get the most of it all, but being thirsty and hot enough, I drank it down.

But it gets better. It looks gorgeous, that coppery amber body, with a good creamy-white head. The mouthfeel is wonderful, with a sparkle that made my cheeks laugh, and yes, it does quench the thirst as well. The hops are clearly in evidence, but they mellow in the mouth rather than hang about with a bitter astringency, as with many IPAs. I’d happily drink this beer on its own, it’s that good, with a nice body and great flavours. I’d also pair it with a good meal; I can imagine it best with something spicy – a curry, chile or strong cheese plate. Couple it with a warm day in the garden, and you have Heaven in a glass, for sure.

I’m giving this an A, simply because it’s such a great balance of hop and malt. It’s interesting enough to drink by itself, it feels good and it’s worthy of your attention, even if, like me, you generally avoid the genre. Beyond the pale? In this one special case, yes. It’s only a shame I’m unlikely to be able to get more locally.

Categories: Beers Tags: , ,
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